Shanth’s Dairy

January 30, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Filed under: Uncategorized — Shanth @ 2:00 am
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I saw Slumdog Millionairefar before it made it to the golden globes and Oscars. I was excited about it because the plot of the movie is based on India. Vikas Swarup wrote an impressive plot for his novel Q&A which  turned to be Slumdog Millionaire on the silver screen.I do not intend to write another review of the movie, but I would like to share some experiences related to it.  The movie is now famous and my most colleagues at work saw the move and I think there was one question that was haunting them.  Everybody seem to be confused by the portrait of India that Danny Boyle created in the movie. So they asked me is India really like that?. When I had to answer their question, I did not answer it right away but asked them a question back. I was curious to know what comes to their minds when they think about India.  Those who visited India before said huge crowds, spicy food and a few mentioned Taj Mahal. Thanks to Danny Boyle for adding the image of the slums to this list.

I think the real question that they had on the back of their minds is whether India is still a third world country.  Here is the same question posted on Yahoo Answers (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081129213910AAepVDs) and you will see mixed opinions there.  That discussion reminds of a presentation that our team did for one of my MBA classes. There were two team that were assigned a topic on the same lines. One team had all Americans on it and the other had 3 Indians out of total 5 in the group including me. The other team tried to show India as a third world country for lack of infrastructure related to electricity, transportation and unemployment.  We, on the other hand, tried to show India as a developing country and as the IT hub of the world.  We never disagreed to what they said and by the way we were not ready to accept their comments.  It becomes really tough to drop to a conclusion on this topic, especially if you are somebody like me who have seen both sides of the coin. But I must confess that they were right to some extent and so were we. Like I mentioned we were just showing to different sides of the same coin.  But I would still say India is a developing country. The picture of India that I had in my mind from my childhood is entirely different from what it is. So I can say for sure India made a great progress over the years and there is still a long way to go. But are we a third world country?. That goes back to how a third world country is defined. Here is an article on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_World) that says India is a third world country.  According to Wikipedia “Third World is a categorical label used to describe states that are considered to be underdeveloped in terms of their economy or level of industrialization, globalization, standard of living, health, education or other criteria for ‘advancements’.” Let us talk about these factors and see where India stands on these factors.

India has been posting a 6%+ growth rate over the past few years. An article by Jagdish Bhagvati says India had made significant industrial development over the past 50 years and liberalization of Indian economy and opening the doors for multinational countries had a direct correlation to an increase in trade, which increased investment, and therefore increased the growth rate. If you read Thomas Friedman’s world is flat, you wont miss the point that India is playing a major role in the globalized world.  India has a literacy rate of 65.38%, which is not too bad.  From my personal experience India had made a significant improvement in terms of health standards over the past 20 years.  So all it boils down to is to define what the other criteria for advancements really is.

I am sure the portrait of India that Danny Boyle presented to the world had annoyed many of us.  But we all know there is some truth in it. So let us not get bothered by what somebody says about India, but take it as a reminder for something that we need to work on and improve ourselves.

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